Computer Generated Photography and Neoclassical Sensibility


Session Title:

  • St. Petersburg 3.0

Presentation Title:

  • Computer Generated Photography and Neoclassical Sensibility



  • Photography was at first an utterly technological art. In the 20th century its development is connected with the idea of technological progress, which has enabled photography to become a prosthesis of vision, providing it with inhuman sharpness and super speed of fixation and thus reinforcing the value of the photograph as documentary evidence. Thus developed straight photography (which was considered an auxiliary to painting or an underdeveloped form of cinema). For many years staged photography was excluded from this process of examining the world with the aid of the camera. The new technologies burst this system from within making visible the potential of manipulated images in hyper-illusionistic photographic tableaux vivants which are even more convincing than straight photo’s as testimonies of the visual truth. Computer generated photography presents virtual images, which could never have been. It deduces things from images just as Platonic ideas serve as the models for existence. Like plasma, computer montage makes numerous layers of images visible. Armed with new technical possibilities, it strengthens the hallucinogenic surrealistic experience of sandwich printing or the use of mirrors. As a result, the very idea of new technologies transforms from a means of additional memory into a magical machine that produces doubles of mental reality. Oswald Spengler defined the phenomenon of exploiting technology as a magical means for producing illusions as the characteristic feature of Hellenism, which he compared with the forthcoming post-industrial society. There is an idea that in computer generated art photography as such comes to an end because daylight loses its importance as the vehicle of image, and the suggestive tie between reality and its image loses force. It is worth remembering that photography has been called mild murder. In Russian, death is defined as “uhod na tot svet” – literally the departure to the other light. The scanning of photo’s, the transformation of chemical processed images into digital ones is exactly such a departure. The transposition of images ‘to the other light’ and their return manifestation is the essential domain of the practice of art. In computer generated photo’s this practice returns to the Greek notion of ‘techne’ and realises the principal project of art: the representation of the unrepresentable. The significance of this project is connected with the reactualisation of the experience of the classical European art. At very least the most successful and sophisticated projects in the computer art of the last three years represent ‘archaic’, not ‘futuristic’, design.